On April 19th, 2023, the European Parliament adopted a new regulation designed to fight deforestation, on the basis of a proposal issued by the Commission in November 2021. The regulation aims to ban, from the end of 2024, the placing on the European market and export from it of products that have contributed to deforestation and forest degradation.
The Parliament has broadened the scope of the initial proposal to include livestock, cocoa, coffee, palm oil and certain derivatives, soy, wood, rubber, coal, printed paper products as well as products derived or processed from these commodities. The Parliament also secured a broader definition of forest degradation to include the conversion of primary or naturally regenerating forests to plantation forests. The text will also have a global scope, and bind all operators and traders operating in the European market are affected, regardless of their size and location of establishment.
This text, which will be submitted to the vote of the Council of the European Union in May 2023, and which is expected to enter into force in December 2024, is part of a global policy led by the Commission to push international operators to pay more attention to the ethics of their supply chain. This policy is embodied in various regulations that will come into force in the short term, such as this one or the regulation on forced labour or the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.
These regulations will require the concerned companies to adhere to due diligence practices in marketing their products in Europe. This will involve collecting information and evaluating the supply chain from two perspectives: (1) based on the country and supply areas and (2) based on the product and its value chain, with the aim of achieving a goal of zero or negligible deforestation. If a risk is identified, a third phase called ‘mitigation’ would be initiated, leading the company to conduct additional investigations or obtain certifications to ensure compliance with the legislation.
During a seminar held on April 19th, 2023, which was attended by DS Avocats, the French government announced its intention to appoint an authority to oversee and enforce the regulation before the end of the year. The General Directorate of Customs is expected to play a central role in this effort.
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